Saturday, December 31, 2016

RIP Murray Greenberg

Good riddance to 2016.  Murray Greenberg, all around good guy and father to Ben and Jerry, passed away on Saturday.  Here's the Miami Herald obituary about the mensch:
Both of Greenberg’s sons grew up to be lawyers, although 42-year-old Gerald stressed that they were never pressured.
“Ben and I would both aspire to be half the lawyer he was,” Gerald said.
He never missed a baseball game or school event, Gerald said. Baseball stayed a passion for the Greenberg men. They attended a final baseball game together this summer, when the Miami Marlins played the Cincinnati Reds. They sat behind the plate and cheered when the Marlins won.
“If you live your life like he did,” Gerald Greenberg said, “you’re going to be happy.”


eadmore here: \

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I am one with the Force. The Force is one with me.

Very very sad.

She "drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra."

Looking forward to 2017.

It's a quiet week... so unless something earth-shattering happens, we'll see you next year.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Names being floated for U.S. Attorney

According to the Miami Herald, there are 4 potential candidates:
▪[Roy] Altman, a lawyer with Podhurst Orseck, is a former federal prosecutor in Miami who obtained convictions in several major cases, including the trial of an international sex trafficker and the murder trial of a U.S. postal worker. He also served as deputy chief of the office’s special prosecutions section and played a lead role in its violence reduction partnerships in the communities of Overtown, Liberty City and Miami Gardens. A Yale Law School alumnus, Altman graduated from Columbia University and played on its football and baseball teams.
▪[John] Couriel prosecuted economic and major criminal cases at the U.S. attorney’s office before joining the law firm Kobre Kim, specializing in Latin America with a focus on allegations of foreign corruption violations, money laundering and tax evasion. He has also run twice unsuccessfully for the Florida Legislature. A native Spanish speaker, Couriel graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
▪ [Dan] Fridman, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Miami, prosecuted economic, financial and corruption cases before serving as senior counsel to the Deputy Attorney General of the United States and as special counsel for healthcare fraud at the Department of Justice. Now a partner at White & Case, Fridman is a native speaker of Spanish and Portuguese who helps multinational companies operating in the U.S. and Latin America investigate allegations of fraud, kickbacks and bribery of government officials. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Harvard Law School.
▪ [Jon] Sale is co-chair of Broad and Cassel’s white-collar defense and compliance practice, representing corporations and individuals in grand jury investigations and complex criminal cases. He is also a member of the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission that reviews and recommends prospective judges to Florida’s two U.S. senators and the president. Sale previously served as the second-in-command of the U.S. attorney’s office in South Florida, after prosecuting federal cases in New York and Connecticut. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and NYU Law School, Sale was also an assistant special prosecutor for the Justice Department in the Watergate case that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Read more here:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

John Schlesinger on Jury Service

State Circuit Judge John Schlesinger (and former AUSA in the SDFLA) wrote an op-ed in the Miami Herald about jury service.  The conclusion:
Jury service means sacrifice. Miami’s civil courthouse, built nearly 100 years ago, is in deplorable condition. Jurors arrive having steeled themselves for a day of waiting patiently in the jury assembly room before enduring the tedious process of questioning at the hands of the judge and lawyers, and then, at last, hearing the facts of a case and rendering a decision. For their trouble they get inadequate seating, inadequate parking, inadequate bathrooms and outdated and undersized courtrooms. Plus, they’ll have to go elsewhere to find a decent cup of coffee.

But the rewards of serving on a jury and ensuring that justice prevails in a courtroom are immeasurable. Jurors represent protection, a bulwark against powerful societal interests and a sometimes rapacious government, none of whom has a monopoly on the truth. And with today’s all-volunteer military, it is the only significant sacrifice, other than taxation, that our country still asks of us as citizens.

The next time that notice comes in the mail, don’t think of it as an imposition. Don’t call or text me to ask how to get out of it. Consider it an opportunity to be soldier in the cause of justice.

And, for God’s sake, bring your own coffee.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Merry Christmas from the White House

President Obama pardoned 78 people yesterday and commuted another 153 sentences (via the AP).  It's the big push before the end of the year.  Good for the President!  It will be interesting to see how the drug laws are enforced under the new administration and whether all of this work will be undone.

Here's the full list of pardons/commutations via the Washington Post.

Monday, December 19, 2016

What do judges think when a party uses "sic" to point out mistakes in the other lawyer's motion?

Everyone enjoyed making fun of PE Trump's "unpresidented" tweet this weekend.  Lawyers also like to [sic] their opponents (me included), but I wonder what judges and their clerks think of it.

Friday, December 16, 2016

SCOF and SCOTUS happenings

1.  Gov. Scott appointed Alan Lawson to the Florida Supreme Court.  Via The Miami Herald:
Gov. Rick Scott appointed C. Alan Lawson to be Florida’s next justice of the Supreme Court Friday, choosing a conservative appellate judge to leave the governor’s mark on a moderate court that has been responsible for some of sharpest defeats of his political career.Lawson, who currently serves as the chief judge on the 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach fills the seat on the seven-member court that is being vacated by Justice James E.C. Perry, a liberal jurist who is retiring at the end of the month because he has reached the mandatory retirement age. Perry was the the fourth African-American jurist to serve on Florida’s high court. Lawson is white.
Lawson attended high school in Tallahassee, went to Tallahassee Community College and Clemson University and earned his law degree from Florida State University.
Before law school he worked at the Florida Department of Corrections as a legislative liaison and was a candidate for the state House of Representatives from Tallahassee in 1986. After he passed the Bar he worked in private practice before becoming an assistant county attorney in Orange County in 1997. He was appointed to the trial court by former Gov. Jeb Bush in 2002.
He has worked for additional funding for the court system, particularly for technology.
Lawson’s wife, Julie, is a board member and volunteer for Mi Esperanza, a non-profit corporation that provides micro loans to underprivileged women in Honduras. They have two grown children.
2.  And for the Supreme Court of the United States, it's supposedly down to two candidates, including 11th Circuit's William Pryor.  Via CNN:
It will be some time before Donald Trump announces a nominee to fill the vacancy left by Antonin Scalia, according to transition insiders.

But two names continue to emerge to the top of the president elect's list of potential Supreme Court justices. Judges Diane Sykes and William Pryor are among the top contenders, according to multiple sources familiar with the process.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

All in the family

Judge Moreno has named a new special master in the Takata Air Bag litigation.  Former law clerk John Delionado has resigned, and Judge Moreno handed the reigns over to another former clerk, Ryan Stumphauzer.  From the DBR:

U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno named Delionado's replacement hours after the Hunton & Williams attorney filed his resignation on Monday.
"My private practice has taken increasingly more of my time in recent months and I believe that I am no longer able to meet the time requirements that this matter demands," wrote the Miami lawyer, a former federal prosecutor who now defends businesses accused of corruption and fraud. "I have discussed this with Judge Moreno and want to extend to him my deepest appreciation for bestowing this honor upon me."
Stumphauzer also served as a federal prosecutor with a focus on health care fraud. His practice now concentrates on government regulatory enforcement, white-collar crime, internal investigations, whistleblower lawsuits and civil fraud, according to his firm's website.
Delionado and Stumphauzer's resumes have another thing in common: Both lawyers once clerked for Moreno.
Attorneys on the Takata case have two weeks to submit objections to Stumphauzer's appointment. He has assured Moreno that the case would present no conflicts for him. The parties will equally split the special master's $550 hourly fee.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Rapper Brisco in trouble with the Feds

From Paula McMahon:

South Florida rapper Brisco, wanted by the U.S. Secret Service since August, was arrested this week when he made a guest appearance with another musician in Broward County, agents said.

Brisco has performed and recorded with Lil' Wayne, Rick Ross and DJ Khaled. Lil' Wayne signed him to Cash Money Records.

Brisco, whose real name is British Mitchell, 34, is accused of selling counterfeit money to an undercover agent and taking part in a fraud ring that operated in South Florida, authorities said. Mitchell is linked to at least $200,000 worth of illegal activity, investigators said.

Agents testified that Mitchell led law enforcement on two high-speed chases when different agencies tried to arrest him in Broward County and in Miami-Dade County on Aug. 23. One of the chases reached speeds of 90 to 100 mph and both agencies abandoned their pursuits because of the potential danger to the public, investigators said.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Feds indict woman who threatened Sandy Hook parent

From the AP:
A Florida woman has been charged with making death threats against the parent of a child who died in the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre because she thought the attack was a hoax, federal authorities announced Wednesday.
Lucy Richards, 57, of Tampa was arrested Monday after a grand jury indictment on four felony counts of transmitting threats, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.
The threats were made Jan. 10, according to authorities, and included messages that said, "you gonna die, death is coming to you real soon," and "LOOK BEHIND YOU IT IS DEATH."
Another threat said, "there's nothing you can do about it," according to court documents.
The indictment said the threats were made in Palm Beach County to a person identified only by the initials "L.P." Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Schall wouldn't say how the threats were delivered or provide more details, nor would she provide further details about why federal authorities said Richards thought the attack was a hoax.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Judge William Pryor rules in favor of "Gay-Straight Alliance" club at middle school

Interesting in light of his consideration for the Supreme Court.  The opinion, written by Judge Pryor, and joined by Judge Marcus and a visiting judge, is here.  The intro:
This appeal requires us to decide whether a complaint that a school board
violated the Equal Access Act when it denied the application of the Carver Gay-
Straight Alliance to form a student club is ripe and not moot and whether the Act
applies to a public middle school in Florida. After a teacher at Carver Middle
School submitted an application for the approval of the Carver Gay-Straight
Alliance, the superintendent denied the application on the ground that the
application failed to identify an allowed purpose for the club. Instead of submitting
a new application, the Alliance and a student, H.F., filed a complaint that the Board
had violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and the
Equal Access Act. Under the Act, if a public school “provides secondary education
as determined by State law,” the school must give extracurricular clubs equal
access to school resources. 20 U.S.C. §§ 4071–72. Following a bench trial, the
district court entered a judgment against the constitutional claims, dismissed the
claim under the Act as both not ripe and moot, and ruled, in the alternative, that the
Act does not apply to Carver Middle School. The Alliance and H.F. appeal only
the dismissal of their complaint that the Board violated the Act. Because we conclude that the complaint of the Alliance and H.F. is ripe and not moot and that the Act applies to Carver Middle School, we vacate and remand for further proceedings.

The ACLU issued a press release, stating: “We are of course pleased that the court agreed with our legal position on all of the issues in the appeal,” stated Daniel Tilley, Staff Attorney for LGBTS Rights for the ACLU of Florida. “But the greater victory is for the middle school students across Florida who are protected by the Equal Access Act and must be allowed to create a gay-straight alliance if their school allows student clubs.”

11th Circuit approves posting oral arguments on its website


The only other Circuit that hasn't joined us in the 21st century is the 10th.

Congrats to the Free Law Project for making this happen.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Summary of Trump's SCOTUS picks

There's a nice website summarizing all 21 potential nominees here.  It's got lots of interesting tidbits, including significant rulings and writings.

In other news, big ups to Ashley Litwin, Lisa Lauck, and Marc Seitles for their appellate win in Uri Ammar's case.  It was a speedy trial violation.  The awesome Paula McMahon covers it here:
"To this day, Uri absolutely maintains that he is innocent," Ammar's appellate lawyers, Marc Seitles and Ashley Litwin, said Wednesday.
They said they have not yet spoken to Ammar, who is in Coleman federal prison in Central Florida, but Ammar's family was very excited when they heard he had won his appeal.
"They were in tears, they were screaming with joy. We are all very happy with the court's decision," Seitles said.
Seitles said he hopes Senior U.S. District Judge Lawrence King will agree to release Ammar, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who was a security worker at the casino. The lawyer said he also hopes the judge will not allow prosecutors to seek a new indictment and trial against Ammar.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Judge Ungaro sentences Matt Greer to 3 years

The other defendants received 18 months to probation. A fair and thoughtful sentencing determination with excellent lawyers all around. Here's the Miami Herald article.

In other news, you gotta check out this disaster from the FBI and GSA.  From Politico:
The hulking wooden sculpture titled “Cedrus” weighed more than 15,000 pounds and stood 17 feet tall, stretching from the lobby to the second floor of the FBI’s field office in Miami.
Made of Western red cedar imported from Vancouver, the massive artwork was actually 30 individual wooden pieces built to resemble a tornado. It was designed by Ursula von Rydingsvard, an artist known for making sculptures from wood beams.
The General Services Administration, an independent agency of the U.S. government that, among other things, leases office space to federal agencies, contracted with von Rydingsvard to create the site-specific sculpture for the Miami office, which the FBI leases.
The sculpture, installed early last year, didn’t last long.
Shortly after "Cedrus" arrived, FBI workers began getting sick, including at least a dozen who were hospitalized, according to hundreds of documents reviewed by POLITICO Florida. Most suffered allergic reactions to cedar dust coming off the sculpture. Among those who became sick was the office’s only nurse, who had to be relocated to another office.
“The health and safety issues surrounding the sculpture were real,” read a January letter written by Richard Haley, the FBI’s assistant director of finance overseeing department property. “One employee required an 11-day hospital stay and none have been able to return to work at the new field office.”
After months of navigating bureaucratic hurdles, as well as interagency fighting, the sculpture was removed in October 2015. The whole ordeal cost taxpayers nearly $1.2 million, including $750,000 paid to von Rydingsvard to design the statute. In documents reviewed by POLITICO Florida, GSA officials said they believed the sculpture was a good deal because it was “likely worth more than the $750,000 the government paid.”
 Really?  A good deal?  Sheesh.